Geek Squad doubles as FBI informant

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit last year to get more information on the ties between the FBI and Best Buy’s Geek Squad. It turns out that Geek Squad doubles as an FBI informant.

The lawsuit was started after a California doctor was prosecuted for possessing child pornography and the doctor revealed that the FBI found out about the photos from Geek Squad in a Best Buy in Kentucky. After the EFF received the requested documents from the FOIA, they discovered that the relationship between Geek Squad and the FBI goes back ten years.

All the hubbub has to do with the Fourth Amendment in which warrantless searches and seizers are unconstitutional. It’s being argued that Geek Squad is an extension of the FBI in that they are being paid $500 to report potentially illegal images, and the FBI refers to Geek Squad informants as Confidential Human Sources.

According to EFF, “An FBI memo from September 2008 details how Best Buy hosted a meeting of the agency’s “Cyber Working Group” at the company’s Kentucky repair facility,” and as if that wasn’t enough “the memo and a related email show that Geek Squad employees also gave FBI officials a tour of the facility before their meeting and makes clear that the law enforcement agency’s Louisville Division “has maintained close liaison with the Geek Squad’s management in an effort to glean case initiations and to support the division’s Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs.”

The doctor’s case that got all of this started reveals some interesting information when it comes to how far Geek Squad employees will go to find illegal images. The image found on the doctor’s laptop was in an area of the hard drive that didn’t have visible data also known as unallocated space. The image had been deleted, and the only way to retrieve an image that has been deleted is with forensic software. Geek Squad employees were making a concerted effort to find images, not simply coming across images during their work, to get the $500 reward.

Documents have shown that Geek Squad employees would report to the FBI only after a manual search for images and that the FBI doesn’t instruct the employees to actively find illegal images.